Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fans To Owner: Go Fudge Yourself

Very strange story here regarding Newcastle United Football Club. Mike Ashley bought the club less than two years ago, and when you total up the purchase cost and the money he's poured into the club, he has spent a quarter of a billion pounds in total. A quarter of a billion. That's out of pocket. Anyway, everything seemed to be all roses at first.

Recently though, NUFC's manager, and former perm enthusiast, Kevin Keeganbailed out on the team (not the first time that has happened, it must be noted) due to his inability to control player transfers. For both his playing and coaching exploits, Keegan is revered as a sort of demigod up in Newcastle - the Geordie Messiah is his nickname - and when he walked out the fans turned quite savagely on Mike Ashley. At this weekend's past match, there were widespread and in many cases very nasty demonstrations against Ashley. In a nutshell, Mike Ashley committed two grave errors in the fans' eyes. He chased out one of their heroes and he didn't spend enough money to bring in top notch players. Both points are quite debatable but the end result of the fans' actions has proven to be amazing. Mike Ashley is putting the team up for sale. From his recent statement:

I have the interests of Newcastle United at heart. I have listened to you. You want me out. That is what I am now trying to do, but it won’t happen overnight and it may not happen at all if a buyer does not come in.

You don’t need to demonstrate against me again because I have got the message. Any further action will only have an adverse effect on the team. As fans of Newcastle United you need to spend your energy getting behind, not me, but the players who need your support.

We can't say that Ashley hasn't had his share of guffaws during his brief time at the helm of Newcastle but his being pushed out by the fans is just insane to me. His purchase of the club and subsequent infusion of money into the coffers to help pay down the club's debt essentially saved NUFC from folding. And yet here he is faced with fans who are so opposed to him that he is now forced to sell the team. On last night's Fox Football Fone-In (one of the best shows on TV, by the way), Steven Cohen was spot on when he basically wondered who in their right mind would buy the club now after seeing what's just happened. However it shakes out, it's going to be a very interesting scene up in Newcastle.

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